I've teased you about sharing my experience about Wanderlust in my past couple posts, but you may have noticed I've been mum (about that and in this space in general) since I last brought it up on Sunday. The truth is, I just haven't been able to find the words (or the time to give the few I have found the proper fleshing out that they deserve).

When Alyssa introduced me to Wanderlust a couple months ago by asking if there was any remote possibility I'd like to go with her, I was cautiously optimistic. I had no idea what to expect from a yoga retreat, but our personalities and life philosophies are similar enough that I trusted it could be a good experience. Plus, she had it on good faith from Erin that it wouldn't be the crunch-fest we were both fearing, so we committed ourselves to a weekend of yoga in the mountains of West Virginia.

(Side note: can we take a moment to pause and appreciate the fact that blogging is awesome? Because, if it has done nothing else, it has brought together two Type-A's, who love to run and plan their runs, who live in different parts of the country, physically together a total of three times already this year. And it's put me in the same physical space of a few other now real-life friends too and countless other dear friends who, at least a for now, I just share Internet space with. Blogging is the best. The End. Thank you. Amen.)

So where were we? Ah, yes, somewhere in the mountains of West Virginia, where the roads are winding and the cell phone service is nonexistent. I'll admit I was a little skeptical about WV's claim, in its state motto, of being "Wonderful", but after a harrowing drive I found myself in awe of the beauty at Snowshoe, a ski resort that was hosting Wanderlust for the weekend. I had been to Snowshoe for a ski trip years earlier but all I remembered was the cute little village where all the shops, restaurants, and lodged are. We stayed in one of the lodges and had a perfect view of all the Wanderlust festivities going on.

Over the course of two days, Alyssa and I hit up 5 yoga classes with all different styles and ambiance and even got in a trail run. She has already done a fabulous job of sharing the ins and outs of our classes (seriously, go read her recap. Right now. I'll be here when you get back), so I wanted to share a little bit more about my experience and about who exactly should go to a Wanderlust festival.

You should go to Wanderlust if...

You feel really intimidated by classes. I hear you. I got my yoga start by going to classes regularly for a couple years, but I've spent the last 2+ years avoiding them and letting my computer screen teach me instead (not that that's a bad thing; those classes are sometimes just as, if not more valuable than an in-class experience). I've thought about getting back into a studio so. many. times. but just keep coming up with excuses. I would be lying through my teeth if I said I didn't have knots in my stomach walking up to the tent where our Saturday 8am class, my first class in over 2 years, was being held. Those knots got a little tighter when the first thing, I mean literally, the very first thing I saw when I entered the tent was a guy showing off warming up with handstands. To be fair, the class was called "Upside Down and Around" (it was an arm balance workshop), but still. Alyssa and I made our way to a couple of spots in the back that were miraculously still open and set up our mats. As soon as the class started, I felt completely at ease and didn't even think about handstand guy, or anyone else for that matter, for the rest of those 90 minutes. It was very clear from the first minute that my practice was about me and only me. All of our instructors were wonderful and encouraging and uplifting but I think Eric Paskel, the instructor of that first class, was my favorite (we were so lucky to get to take a second class with him on Sunday)!

You're a beginner. Sometime in between when I signed up for Wanderlust and when I actually made it to Snowshoe, I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into. In my head, everyone in attendance was going to be able to hold a perfect crow pose or headstand or other poses I've only just begun to scratch the surface of. What if my downward dog was laughable, or I fell over because I couldn't balance in Warrior I (happens sometimes)? I may have been worried about that stuff, but I had no need to be, as I learned from the guy next to me in our second class. This class, just so you know, was called "Every Breath You Take," taught by Gina Caputo, and set to music by The Police as orchestrated by DJ Drez. If you're thinking that that sounds like the coolest yoga class you've ever heard of, then you're right. Anyway. There came a part where we lined up, arms behind the people next to us, and went through a few poses together, tree being one of them. Would you believe me if I told you that after class, the man next to me told me that standing in that line was the first time he had ever been able to hold tree pose? Like, ever? I wouldn't recommend Wanderlust as your very first yoga experience, but if its something you have any familiarity with, don't let your lack of experience deter you. 

You like yoga, but you like other stuff too. I'll be totally honest, I was really relieved to see a running class offered. Yes, most of the classes center around some part of the yoga practice (both the physical and mental aspects), but not all of them. There are lectures There are running workshops. There's live music. Karaoke. Open mic night. There was even zip lining at Snowshoe! We went pretty yoga-heavy this time, but we did try Intro to Mindful Running taught by Elinor Fish. Elinor shared some mindful running principles with us before taking us on a guided not-even-3-mile train run through the woods and was so encouraging and helpful afterward that we may even be thinking about  joining her on a running adventure next summer. 

You just want a good stretch. Neither of us had ever tried yin yoga before last weekend (one of us may not have even known what yin yoga was before last weekend, but I'll let you guess who), but "Deep Hip Work" with Joe Barnett sounded too good to pass up after that run. There were only 4 or 5 poses (plus some transitional poses in between) for the entirety of this 90-minute class. We held each pose for several minutes and learned to find calmness doing so. Holding double pigeon for 3-5 minutes might not be the most comfortable thing I've ever done, but my hips thanked my profusely for it, especially when I woke up the next day with no trace of the hip pointer pain I've been feeling for the last 4 months.

You want a challenge. I don't think any yoga class could really be easy at 8am after two nights in a row of too much wine and too little sleep, and round 2 with Eric was definitely anything but. This time we took "Vindalini", a blend of vinyasa + kundalini yoga. We did a nonstop flow with some breathing exercises mixed in. Approximately 47 chaturanga push-ups was way more than I bargained for on a Sunday morning, but I appreciate the work I had to put in to get through it.

You want some direction. In life or in yoga, either way, you'll find it at Wanderlust. We capped off our weekend with "Building a Playbook: Sequencing For Home and Studio Practice" with Sage Rountree. Sage took so much care to break down the sequencing of her classes and introduce us to all kinds of variations on old favorites. This class gave me so many ideas for my own home practice and gave me the confidence to do some self-guided flows instead of always relying on videos.

You want to grow. I went into Wanderlust with really no other expectations other than spending time with a good friend and hopefully having an enjoyable yoga class or two. I didn't go into it wanting to work on my perspective or improve anything other than maybe my crow pose. It took the 6-hour drive home and the following days for the experience to really sink in and to to process everything I had done, seen, and heard over those two days. It's something I don't think I can fully express, even now, but just know that Alyssa was not exaggerating when she described is as "profound" and "life-altering." I've noticed the biggest but somehow subtle and simple changes, like I've just had a slight shift that has allowed me to view the world in a whole different way. This new perspective came at a perfect time, as this week I've started on my newest and biggest adventure yet - training for my first half Ironman. I've already put so many of the principles I was exposed to this weekend to practice and I can't wait to see where they take me from here on out.

I don't always take selfies, but when I do it's because I'm wearing my new Wanderlust tank.
Namaste, y'all.


  1. I clearly have way too much to say about all of this... So can we just talk about how weird DJ Drez is for a minute? White man in dreads who only DJ's yoga festivals/events? I just "met" him at the end of April and had a good chuckle to myself. Hey dude, drink that kombucha, enjoy that vegan burger and God bless with your inner-peace search. Also, why is there always "that guy" warming up before a yoga class?? I mean, always. As a teacher, I wish he would leave. He scares off new students, intimidates beginners, and destroys the peaceful energy of the class. I would actually rather have to loud, gossiping women than "that guy" hanging out before a class starts!

  2. oooo. This looks like a lot of fun. I could totally benefit from a yoga retreat. I wonder if there's something like that around me? Now I need to google it. My sister and I would love to do something like this.

  3. loved reading this recap. it really sounds amazing and i'm glad you all had such a fabulous time!

  4. Well, color me cranky. I left a long comment on this this morning and it's nowhere to be found! grumble grumble. Long story short, I'm so glad you found so much value in this experience and that we were able to share it! And any time we get to run "together" is a good time, as far as I'm concerned ;) So now we just need to start planning how we can take class with Eric again and saving pennies for Elinor's 2016 adventure! Can't wait for Wanderlust 2016! (Or Brooklyn '15...) :)

  5. West Virginia... that's 'decently' close to me.. you are STILL intriguing me!

  6. I loved reading your recap because sharing that you didn't have to be an expert, and that the classes were comfortable to participate in is awesome! I don't know why, but for some reason I have it in my head that it would have never been something I would ever even give a second though about attending..and yet I was reading through this thinking...this sounds pretty cool if yoga is something you are even remotely interested in. I cant imagine how much your learned and grew there and that is so awesome!!!

  7. What an amazing experience! It's so cool that it applies to so many other things in your life, other than yoga. I'm looking at future festivals in envy :)

  8. This sounds amazing to me and Im glad there was a running class so it could break it up a bit. I also love that you didn't need to be an expert to be a part of it! Sounds so up my alley!

  9. This honestly sounds so awesome. I don't know if there's anything like this in South Africa but I should def look into it! And I love that selfie ;)


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